The author, a descendant of one of the largest slave-owning families, confronts his past by researching archives and connecting with the descendants of the slaves. He tells a compelling story of black and white families,who lived side by side for five generations. The author attempts (and does an excellent job!) to explain why the slave legacy is still enmeshed in this country today. Reading this book gave me a greater understanding of our American history and human nature.
48 pages of historic and current photographs.
Writer Edward Ball opens Slaves in the Family with an anecdote: "My father had a little joke that made light of our legacy as a family that had once owned slaves. 'There are five things we don't talk about in the Ball family,' he would say. 'Religion, sex, death, money and the Negroes.'" Ball himself seemed happy enough to avoid these touchy issues until an invitation to a family reunion in South Carolina piqued his interest in his family's extensive plantation and slave-holding past. He realized that he had a very clear idea of who his white ancestors were--their names, who their children and children's children were, even portraits and photographs--but he had only a murky vision of the black people who supported their livelihood and were such an intimate part of their daily lives; he knew neither their names nor what happened to them and their descendents after they were freed following the Civil War. So he embarked on a journey to uncover the history of the Balls and the black families with whom their lives were inextricably intertwined, as well as the less tangible resonance of slavery in both sets of families. From plantation records, interviews with descendents of both the Balls and their slaves, and travels to Africa and the American South, Ball has constructed a story of the riches and squalor, violence and insurrection--the pride and shame--that make up the history and legacy of slavery in America.
Thorough, thought-provoking and compelling story about appearance versus reality. Though I read it when it first came out I remember the honesty of the author. I kept wondering how those on both sides of the family would respond to the public knowing what happened. Would there be shame? Humiliation? Denial? Would the truth set them free? Would reconciliation come about for others beside the author? Of course, this is the pink elephant that no one wants to talk about in the south in particular.
I hope the author will one day choose to enlighten us where this journey took him in life.
This is a true account regarding slavery- powerful and painful for all! An account which forces us to look at our history- whether your ancestors were slaves or those who took slaves.
This book is both a history of America and the Ball family as well as the people who were enslaved by them. It looks into early colonial America and into Africa. It is a rich text and also a voyage of discovery. The author is a descendent the Ball family, one of the oldest rice plantation owning "tribes" of the South. The book documents the author's family and the people who worked for them. Many of the ex-slave family members are now of much higher social and educational strata than the Ball family descendants. Others are the author's blood kin. It is a book to read slowly and examine. Very good.
Powerful...A book that is an amazing amalgamation of history, detective work, sociology and personal catharsis. It covers not only the days of slavery, but investigates the intertwined lives of blacks and whites into the 20th century.
A history of one man's family who tracked down and interviewed the descendants of former family slaves across the country.
Winner of the National Book Award. Part oral history, this unique family saga is a catharsis and a searching inventory of racially divided American society.
Most interesting...great research by the author.
Interesting although overly long.
"BALL is a first-rate scholar-journalist . . . He's also a good detective, tracking down the many descendants of Ball slaves from New York to California and back in the South and coaxing them, often with some difficulty, to tell their stories . . . Outside Faulkner, it will be hard to find a more poignant, powerful account of a white man struggling with his and his nation's past." THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION
Winner of the National Book Award, this is an absolutely fascinating non-fiction read about the search for relatives who turn out to have been slaves.
A must for your library shelf after reading and soaking in the loads of history you never knew. Wonderful pictures accompany text.
I was unable to get into this book.
Excellent historical history of the Ball family, the plantations they owned, the slaves, and the culture around slavery.
The high rating is that it is a very complete book, not that everyone would read every chapter (500 pages). Its greatest value is in the discussion of 'Sources' (pp.454-456): The author lays out that tracing the descent of Black Americans 'afore the war' can be made possible by seeking information in the records of the Freedman's Bureau, Military service and pension records, the Freedman's Savings and Trust Co., and from the records of one-time plantation owning families. In his case, the Yankees burned only one of the family plantations (South Carolina) and many account books, correspondence, etc. were to be found among several historical societies.
I found Chapter 16 Aftermath (pp. 351-371) especially interesting about the decline in the fortunes of the Ball family after the war and also how Black families got along. There were at least 842 people freed in 1865 and calculations are provided that estimates 100,000 descendants at the end of the 20th C.
Index, endnotes, acknowledgements (much of the material came because the author called upon people), sources are mostly the records deposited in past years as well as consulting with noted historians, pictures (mostly from private sources), three charts showing descent (Ball family and those of two people held in bondage long ago), and an excellent map of the plantations owned from the 18th C. onward.
This is one of the most entertaining and informative books that I have ever read. I would highly recommend it.
This is an extemely interesting and entertaining true story. You feel like your right in the book as you read. Very well written. History teaches us and all races should read this book. We're all more alike than most of us realize. Peace & hugs to all.
Though I thought I would really enjoy this book, I did not. It was hard to get into. I finally just looked at the photo section and gave up on reading it. It's written by a man who traced his ancestry, to include slaves who were related and slaves of the family. I did not expect it to be as boring as it was.
so much history - a real eye opener - very informative
this book is a sotback book in my opinion but matches the ISBN hardcover. It has been a while since I read it. It is about a man who decides to research or trace his family background. His family owned multiple plantations and slaves as well. It is a very interesting read.